Cité de l'Océan et du Surf Museum, Steven Holl, Biarritz, surf museum, eco museum, green building, sustainable architecture
Image ©Iwan Baan

Located on a pie-shaped site perpendicular to the beach, the museum is like an arrow pointing towards the ocean. The museum’s shape is concave and derived from the spatial concept “under the sky”/“under the sea”. Inside, the facility hosts an exhibition area, an auditorium, a restaurant, a cafeteria and offices, all of which aim to raise awareness of oceanic issues and explore educational and scientific aspects of the surf and sea. Dynamic curved surfaces in the plaza surge up like waves to create a peaceful space with views extended out over the landscape and towards the beach. These open areas are a mix of field and local vegetation and will host festivals and events in conjunction with the museum.

Two “glass boulders”, which contain the restaurant and the surfer’s kiosk, mirror two real boulders on the beach and activate the plaza space. These glass rooms connect with the rest of the museum, but provide ocean views in a protected space. A skate pool, dedicated to the surfers’ hangout, is located on the plaza level, while underneath is a covered patio for outdoor meetings. Cobblestones from Portugal and natural vegetation line the plaza, allowing rainwater to infiltrate into the ground, and the textured white concrete is made of aggregates from the south of France. Insulated glass units provide daylighting and interior comfort to the indoor spaces.

The museum’s design was first awarded to Holl and Solange Fabião in an international competition back in 2005 and was completed in the spring of 2011. As of June 26th the museum is now open to the public and all who want to enjoy the ocean.

+ Steven Holl

Images ©Iwan Baan and Steven Holl Architects